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Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board Heritage Fair
Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Sleet, Nor Hail
My project looks at the history of mail delivery in rural areas of Canada. I look closely at the history of my home community, River Denys, NS, because it reflects the history of mail delivery anywhere in rural Canada. My great-grandfather was a rural mailman in the mid-1940s.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
The most interesting thing I learned was that the population decline we see in rural areas today has been going on for many years. The reasons for people leaving may have changed but the effects are the same. At one time Cape Breton had 720 post offices. Today there are only 48.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
Rural mail delivery has changed over the years. We have gone from way offices to post offices and from post offices to rural route delivery. All of these changes have been influenced by the outmigration of people from rural areas. One thing that hasn't changed, is the fact that every Canadian is guaranteed mail delivery regardless of where they live.
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
The way we get our mail may be different. There is no longer a post office every mile or two along the way. In rural areas we have moved to rural route delivery and rural route delivery is different now than it was in the 1940s when my great grandfather delivered the mail. Horse and wagon have been replaced by comfortable cars and trucks; road conditions have changed from bog ridden or snow blocked to ones that are stable and easily passable any time of the year. What took my granfather all day to do takes less than a couple of hours today. The one thing that hasn't changed is the expectation that the mail will get through... "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor hail shall keep the postman from his appointed rounds."